- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

MARSHALL ISLANDS

13 foreign residents hit by dengue fever

MAJURO — Eleven Japanese aid workers and two Australians living at an Australian navy compound here have been stricken by the mosquito-borne dengue virus, health authorities said yesterday.

Public health director Kennar Briand said there have been no confirmed cases among Marshall Islanders, even though health staff have been on alert since hearing reports of dengue among non-Marshall Islanders living here. Dengue can be fatal; the flu-like symptoms include severe headaches, fever, muscle aches and, in the most severe cases, internal bleeding.

Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer coordinator Noriko Ishii said a doctor diagnosed one JOCV volunteer with dengue in September. Most of the nearly 30 Japanese volunteers in the Marshall Islands who had symptoms were subsequently tested and a Honolulu laboratory confirmed that 11 had dengue. Results are pending for seven others, she said.

SOUTH KOREA

Roh may drop referendum idea

SEOUL — President Roh Moo-hyun will drop the idea of a referendum on his rule if opposition-party leaders don’t agree to holding one, a high-ranking government official said yesterday.

The official, who asked not to be identified, told foreign correspondents the key was getting the parties to accept the constitutionality of a referendum. Mr. Roh will meet party leaders on Sunday after he returns from a trip to Southeast Asia.

The president stunned the country last week by calling for a vote of confidence in himself just months into a five-year presidency. It coincides with the country’s first recession in five years and a nuclear crisis with North Korea. Mr. Roh said he is ready to step down if he loses.

“If there is no agreement with the political parties on a national referendum, then it will not take place,” said the official. “But the president’s view remains that it should take place.”

Weekly notes …

Because of a slump in the real estate market and slow pace of infrastructure projects, the U.S.-based MacDonald’s restaurant chain said yesterday it has not been able to expand its global restaurant chain in India as fast as it has in China. A company official said the burger giant has opened 50 outlets in India since its entry there in 1996, not achieving its target of 80 outlets by 2003. China, which had a five-year head start, now has more than 500 outlets, he added. … Thirty Vietnamese experts have arrived in Madagascar to help farmers on the island off East Africa boost their rice yield, the U.N. agriculture agency reports. “They don’t hesitate to put their feet in the mud, which is something our farmers really like,” said Harison Randriarimanana of Madagascar’s Agriculture Ministry of the Vietnamese rice experts who will spend two years coaching local farmers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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